The 7 Most Common Weaknesses of Local Shops
And what we’re all going to do about them.
As we head into the busy holiday shopping season, we are seeing lots of Shop Local messages working to get customers to think about shifting their shopping more to local stores. I want to add another layer, and get rural business owners to think about making Better Local Shopping to hold on to those customers.
This is the last part of a seven week series on the weaknesses and what we can do about them. I hope you’ve put this series into action. If you have, I’ll bet you feel better prepared for the busy holiday shopping season that starts now.
- Weakness 1: Limited Business Hours
- Weakness 2. Poor Customer Service
- Weakness 3. Limited Selection
- Weakness 4: High Prices
- Weakness 5: Dated Appearance or Ugly Buildings
- Weakness 6. Not Marketing
- Weakness 7. Failing the Showrooming Test
Weakness 7. Failing the show-rooming test
Customers, even in small towns, are standing in local stores and using their smartphone to compare prices with online retailers. If the product is cheaper at the online store, they order it immediately, and the local business just lost a sale.
It’s extremely hard to compete on price alone. Especially when the local business pays for the store, provides jobs for the retail clerks, gives customers the education and information, and everything else that goes into being the show room. And then the online retailer doesn’t collect sales tax, giving them an additional price advantage (and hurting your municipal government.)
Solution: Connect with customers.
Don’t try to stop customers from getting online in your store. In fact, offer them wifi. Make it easy.
Customers need reasons to choose to buy from you, and they need to connect with you.
1. Offer them something special not available from online retailers.
This could be a bonus with their purchase, personalization, gift wrap, or a discount.
Carry more exclusive items, especially local items. If no one else has it, customers can’t buy it from some online store.
Give better service. Be the trusted adviser that online stores can only try to emulate with software.
2. Be part of your community and worth supporting.
That online mega-store isn’t sponsoring the local Girl Scout troop, are they? So talk about it, not just with in-person customers, but in your ads, with displays and signs in your store, and on your social networks.
3. Invite the comparison, but make it fair.
Invite customers to check your prices against the online shops, but make sure they add the items to the cart and check out taxes and shipping. That’s just one tip from an article on “proactive showrooming” from the Retail Owners Institute.
- About the Author
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.